Civic Engagement and Civil Discourse
This Fourth Form seminar exists for three reasons. First, through a carefully selected series of lessons, Civic Engagement and Civil Discourse seeks to help Westminster students better understand who they are and for what they stand. Second, Westminster School feels strongly that it should, explicitly and intentionally, teach its students that they have an obligation to engage in their community. Third, learning to engage in civil discourse is the gateway through which one engages in one's community — one must learn to listen, one must learn to consider opposing views, one must learn to honor the conventions of courtesy and respect.
Strengths/Weaknesses Survey: In addition to helping students clarify their views, Civic Engagement will also encourage each individual to understand more clearly his or her strengths and weaknesses. To aid with this point of emphasis, Civic Engagement relies on the VIA Survey of Character Strengths for Children, made available by the University of Pennsylvania and its Authentic Happiness website. While the information each student receives back from these surveys is only for his or her personal use, please note that the survey information each student provides, though anonymous, becomes part of the research data pool. Please review the information below:
Hidden Bias Tests:
This course may also ask its students to take Hidden Bias Tests. As described in the Teaching Tolerance web site: “Hidden Bias Tests measure unconscious, or automatic, biases. Your willingness to examine your own possible biases is an important step in understanding the roots of stereotypes and prejudice in our society.” (http://www.tolerance.org/Hidden-bias).
Available from Project Implicit via Harvard.edu, the tests allow an individual to measure one’s attitudes toward Race, Skin-tone, Weight, Weapons, Native Americans, Disability, Gender, Age, Sexuality, Religion, Asians, Arab-Muslims, Presidents, etc.
Given this stipulation, the assumption should also be that the information provided by each student becomes part of a larger data pool — “a ‘virtual laboratory’ for collecting data on the Internet.” (http://www.projectimplicit.net/about.html)
As with the Strengths/Weaknesses Surveys, the information a Westminster student receives back from these tests is for his or her personal use only.
Please review the information below:
Speech Writing and Public Speaking
Speech Writing and Public Speaking represents the second half of the Fourth Form electives that begin with Civic Engagement and Civil Discourse in the fall. During both the winter and (at least part of) the spring trimester, Westminster’s Fourth Formers study both the compositional elements of speech writing and the rhetorical devices that make for effective delivery. The curriculum culminates in the Westminster Fourth Form Public Speaking Contest. Based on speeches students give in their individual sections, roughly ten finalists will be selected. In the spring, these finalists will compete in front of the entire Fourth Form and assorted other members of the Westminster community for the Westminster Fourth Form Speaking Prize.